To the Editor:
Re “Derek Chauvin Guilty of Murder in George Floyd Death” (nytimes.com, April 20):
On Tuesday afternoon the momentous decision in the Derek Chauvin trial was announced and the verdict was guilty on all three counts. With a country kept on tenterhooks for weeks, the announcement of a guilty verdict felt just as dramatic and cathartic as one might imagine, resulting in a huge nationwide sigh of relief.
The critical question is: Will this verdict usher in a new age where we can truly say that Black Lives Matter and where striving for equality before the law is not merely lip service, but a new enduring reality?
We as a nation can take solace in the likelihood that this verdict will defuse any spontaneous protests that might have otherwise devolved in rage, a rage causing violence and destruction. But let us not forget that a man, George Floyd, is dead and that this verdict does not bring him back to his family and loved ones. It does mean that Mr. Floyd’s death was not in vain, as it hopefully marks a historic turn where a police officer’s abhorrent behavior was judged not only excessive, but also criminal.
It seems likely that most Americans will view this judgment as right, just and moral. It is now incumbent upon all of us to turn this moment into a lasting movement that treats Black Americans as truly equal under the law.
To the Editor:
Though the jury absolutely came to the correct verdict in finding Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts, let’s not mistake this outcome for justice.
Justice will be when people of color can live in a country where they do not have to fear the bias of racist law enforcement.
Justice will be when bigoted policies and voting laws are revoked in favor of equitable solutions that don’t disproportionally affect certain communities.
Justice will be when, after 400 years of marginalization, scapegoating and unthinkable pain, Black people can live in the United States without being made to feel as if they don’t belong.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” With Tuesday’s verdict, we bend a little further toward an equitable and righteous society, but we are not yet close to our destination.
To the Editor:
Now that the jury has spoken, it is instructive to look back on the genesis of George Floyd’s encounter with the police and his subsequent death, particularly from a racial and economic disparity perspective. Mr. Floyd was arrested after attempting to pay a store clerk with an allegedly counterfeit $20 bill, even though there was no evidence that he knew the bill was fake.
As the video of Mr. Floyd’s arrest shows, he was confronted by multiple police officers, including one with his gun drawn. He was then subsequently treated in a rough and degrading manner by the officers when he complained that he was having difficulty complying with their request to get in the back of a squad car because of claustrophobia. We all know what happened next.
Contrast this with the way in which Bernie Madoff, who admitted to masterminding a Ponzi scheme totaling billions of dollars, was treated. Unlike Mr. Floyd, whose inhumane manhandling by the police led to his death, Mr. Madoff was visited by respectful F.B.I. agents, in a civilized white-collar criminal context, following the disclosure of his monumental financial improprieties. Further, he was able to spend the initial days of his infamy in the comfort of his multimillion-dollar New York penthouse.
Obviously, we have a way to go before we can declare that there is equal justice under the law in the United States of America.